#34: Making jewelry

Posted by Megan on December 31st, 2011


Beer, bracelets and buddies… it’s my kind of Saturday night!

Recently I scored a sweet offer to learn to make jewelry. My buddy Susan’s sister, Stacy, is a jewelry-making gem! She is a real life geologist. It was fascinating to meet her. Ever since I took Geology 101 in college, I find studying rocks to be interesting.

I only took Geology because it fulfilled a pesky science credit.  It was one of about 10 choices. I choose geology because it scored high in my class choosing equation. My patented formula served me well. Not only did I graduate and get a job I love, I also learned about a lot of random topics.
Since I’m done with school, I’ll spread my expertise:

a) 5 points assigned based on the easiness of subject matter (0 for calculus, 5 for meditation)
b) 5 points based on boringness (0 for catholic theology, 5 for movie history)
c)5 points assigned based on how far I had to walk (0 for far away classes, 5 for classes that did not require that I walk outdoors)
d) 1 point for every hour after 8 a.m. the class began
e) 5 points assigned by the hotness of the professor (0 for the oldies and baldies, 5 for the hotties with bodies)

Geology scored 22. Most of those points were earned in sections d & e.

My (limited) knowledge of geology has changed my taste in jewelry. Instead of choosing super chunky plastic fashion jewelry, I typically stick with more organic looking pieces. This kind of stuff is very expensive to buy retail and the particular look I like is hard to find.

Despite the fact that making your own jewelry has become increasingly popular and accessible, I never even thought to try it. My last attempt to make “friendship bracelets” in fourth grade crashed and burned. My long gangly fingers were not nearly small enough to manipulate the tiny threads, so my friendship bracelets looked more like enemy bracelets .

Despite my trepidation to relive the friendship fallout that followed my last attempt to create a handmade ornament, I was excited to learn from Stacy.

When I arrived, Stacy had placed dozens of jewelry examples on the coffee table. They were all absolutely beautiful and just my taste.

Stacy whipped up a necklace in three mintues flat!


My eyes immediately gravitated towards one masterpiece. I nearly grabbed it off the table and ran away with it! Her work was superb. Both the style and crafts(wo)manship were thoughtful and excellently executed.


So pretty!


I tried to steal this necklace. It was gorgeous!

Stacy gave me an overview of jewelry making basics. She showed me the tools, which all have proper names, but I promptly renamed them into things I could remember: chief squisher, dainty squisher, broken tire and pac-man.

The dogs paid terrible attention. I’m pretty sure they have no idea how to use a pac-man squishier!

I decided to make a bracelet, since I’ve never owned a bracelet that fits my wrist correctly. I have tiny, itsy-bitsy wrists. I know what you’re thinking “Megan I have small wrists too!” Nope, they are nothing like my baby wrists. According to the American School of Pediatrics, my wrist size is the standard width of an eight year old girl! I will never understand why the rest of my frame is normal and my wrists are the size of a toddler. It’s part of my Megan charm… or creepiness, take your pick.

Stacy had hundreds of types of beads of all colors, sizes and shapes. Not surprisingly, most of her collection was natural stones and gems. With the assistance of Stacy and Susan, I picked a brownish square rock as my chief element, then selected two types of silver beads to be my accent pieces.

So many choices!

The first step is to unwind a piece of jewelry wire, then you just start beading away.  This part was easy: round bead, square bead, stone bead… repeat. Well, sort of easy. Just as I was finishing my first attempt, Susan noticed my pattern was off. BLAST! I started over. After I corrected the pattern problem, I cut my wire and prepared to finish my edges.

You have to add a “broken tire” then squish it with a standard squisher, then you put a pac-man on top of it and squish that closed. The pac-man covers the ugly tire.

Working on my squishing skills.


Beer break!


Stacy helps me determine the correct size for my infant wrist.

Just when I thought I was all done, one of the ends popped loose and all the beads went flying. CRAP! Now I have to start all over again. On my third attempt we realized the bracelet was a bit too large. That required me to start from scratch again. On my fourth attempt the bracelet was now too small. I felt like Goldylocks! Back to square one. On my fifth attempt it was finally the right size and pattern. Stacy demonstrated how to attach the clasp and VOILA! A few beers, a few hours and a few swear words later- I had my first hand-made treasure!

My first ever handmade piece of jewelry. While I was making one bracelet five times, Susan had made a beautiful double-strand bracelet, showed me some photos, took the dogs out, looked up a few things on the internet for me and coaxed her husband into showing me the handmade vest he sewed for his wedding years ago.It was such a blast. It was a great casual activity. I’ve already invited myself over for Jewelry Making 201. Based on my class choosing equation, I’ll be taking many more jewelry classes from Stacy and Susan in the future.Power up magic bracelets!

As you see, I am certainly not in any position to be providing any type of jewelry making tutorial. If you’d like to learn how to make your own jewelry, or if you just want to find out what the real names of my Megan-ized components, there are various tutorials available on About.com. Check it out!

  • © 2011 Megan Steil